jack·​leg | \ ˈjak-ˌleg How to pronounce jackleg (audio) , -ˌlāg \

Definition of jackleg

1a : characterized by unscrupulousness, dishonesty, or lack of professional standards a jackleg lawyer
b : lacking skill or training : amateur a jackleg carpenter
2 : designed as a temporary expedient : makeshift

Other Words from jackleg

jackleg noun

Did you know?

Don't call someone jackleg unless you're prepared for that person to get angry with you. Throughout its more than 150-year-old history in English, jackleg has most often been used as a term of contempt and deprecation, particularly in reference to lawyers and preachers. Its form echoes that of the similar blackleg, an older term for a cheating gambler or a worker opposed to union policies. Etymologists know that blackleg appeared over a hundred years before jackleg, but they don't have any verifiable theories about the origin of either term.

Examples of jackleg in a Sentence

a toolshed that can be built by any jackleg carpenter who's capable of hitting a nail without smashing his thumb he did such a jackleg installation of that door frame that now the door won't shut

First Known Use of jackleg

1833, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for jackleg

jack entry 1 + -leg (as in blackleg)

Learn More About jackleg

Time Traveler for jackleg

Time Traveler

The first known use of jackleg was in 1833

See more words from the same year

Listen to Our Podcast About jackleg

Dictionary Entries Near jackleg

jack lagging



See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for jackleg

Cite this Entry

“Jackleg.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/jackleg. Accessed 8 Aug. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More from Merriam-Webster on jackleg

Nglish: Translation of jackleg for Spanish Speakers


Test Your Vocabulary

Commonly Confused Words Quiz

  • vector image of a face with thought expression
  • I went to the ______ store to buy a birthday card.
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!